The Farmstead Promise
Asheville Farmstead School exists to foster experiences that unearth the connection between nature, people, and sustainable food sources. By celebrating individual diversity, we lay the foundation for the empathy and kindness needed to create a village of life-long learners. Our students learn skills to develop and care for the Earth, their fellow humans, and their own education.
We envision a community where each time a child engages with nature, nature teaches the child in a way that sparks curiosity and cultivates respect. Every time an adult connects with a child, the child teaches the adult about patience, play, and wonder. Together, these life-long learners benefit from our community and appreciate the intrinsic value of the Earth.
Asheville Farmstead is honored to be stewards of a 25-acre tract of land in a peaceful cove of Candler, NC. When you drive up to the farm, you will look out over the permaculture-inspired garden, chicken coop, Fortville, and field. Behind the field, sits our stone-built schoolhouse and yard. The schoolhouse is only used when the weather prevents us from being outdoors but is complete with a craft room, student-directed learning living room, peaceful room, and a naturally lit kitchen. The schoolyard is home to dirt kitchen, pine play, an in-ground trampoline, nature ninja course, creek kitchen, greenhouse, and more! Beyond the schoolyard lies the forested cove, with a creek, a spring, trails that lead all the way to the ridgeline, as well as our Littlest Learners outdoor classroom.
As we grow together, this place will benefit from the imagination of creative minds and the dedication of little hands. We will continue to mark trails, build forts and treehouses, turn over rocks, stack logs, change water patterns, pull up old plants, and install new ones, all while learning about the earth and each other.
Forest School Movement
The forest school movement focuses on outdoor play and environmental stewardship through nature immersion. The forest school movement was founded in Scandinavia, and one of the first forest schools in the United States was Cedarsong Nature School in Washington State. Time is spent outdoors, no matter the weather, with the mantra being “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” (or being ill-prepared). The children learn resiliency and appreciation for all seasons by spending time outside in all weather, including colder temperatures and precipitation.
One of the main pillars of the forest school philosophy is that the learning is child-led, with no predetermined curriculum. The children use their sense of wonder, imagination, and group cooperation to guide lessons the teachers provide. Through this, the children develop a deeper sense of ownership over the place they play in and the topics they learn.
The benefits of nature-immersed learning are cognitive, social, and physical. With no set curriculum, the children develop creative and imaginative skills. Conflict resolution is often left to the children, with educators only stepping with guidance when needed. Children work together to solve problems and develop strategies in their play, showing cooperation. Successes improve self-esteem and self-motivation. Climbing, balancing, building, and hiking all engage and strengthen motor skills. Risk is a big part of being in nature, and children learn to identify and manage risk through forest schooling. Being outside develops a stronger immune system and the active lifestyle keeps children healthier.
With the growth of technology, we are seeing children spend more and more time inside in front of screens. Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods,” provides mounting research of the ill-effects of children not spending enough time in nature – i.e. Nature-Deficit Disorder. Forest schooling provides early interactions with nature that will foster a connection to and develop compassion for nature that is likely to last a lifetime. The forest school philosophy believes that providing these opportunities for children in their younger formative years will help build a future population of resilient, self-thinking, healthy, and empathetic environmental stewards.
Founder, Executive Director
Lauren is the founder, and Executive Director, at the Asheville Farmstead School. In the years leading up to founding Asheville Farmstead School, Lauren Brown taught middle school science for a nonprofit boarding school. She was a founding teacher of the middle school program and an integral advocate for the middle school's yearly experiential education trips. Prior to her work at the boarding school, Lauren was involved in a two-year Master of Education program through the University of Washington and a non-profit organization called IslandWood.
Year one of her Master's degree program was held at IslandWood, where Lauren taught environmental education to third and fourth-grade students from the greater Seattle area. While teaching, Lauren was also taking graduate courses that ranged from classroom management to nonprofit management, and child psychology to educational philosophy. Upon completion of the first year of the Islandwood program, Lauren received a certificate in Environment, Education, and Community (2011). Before her second year of graduate school, Lauren was a lead instructor for IslandWood’s summer camp program, where she led groups of campers ages 3-14 in a wide range of nature-based activities. During the second year of the graduate program, Lauren completed her Master in Science Education from the University of Washington, while concurrently working for Homewaters, a non-profit program that brings outdoor science investigation activities to elementary schools in the Seattle area.
Lauren is gifted at speaking with kids in a language that they understand, with clear, direct instruction, and boundless joy. She enjoys spontaneous adventures and opportunities to go outside and experience everything nature can offer. Lauren has a passion for travel; she has been to over 17 countries and aims to visit every National Park in the USA.
Lauren is also a passionate advocate of lifelong learning, has maintained a Wilderness First Responder certification through NOLS since 2012. In December 2017 she received a certification in the Cedarsong Way of Forest Kindergarten Teaching, with Erin Kenny and is now a board officer for the nonprofit running the Cedarsong Way. Lauren has been trained in Love and Logic and takes yearly refresher classes. In June 2018 Lauren was presented with the annual Natural Wonder award by the Eastern Region Association of Forest And Nature Schools (ERAFANS) while she was presenting and attending their annual conference. Lauren is an active member of the Board of Directors for The Cedarsong Way as well as the American Forest Kindergarten Association. In 2019 Lauren was recognized as Alumni of the year from the preschool she attends and inspires a lot of her work today, The Children's Garden School.
Garden Educator and Administrative Assistant
Daniel is the garden manager and administrative assistant at the Asheville Farmstead School. Daniel is a proud North Carolinian who grew up in Raleigh and moved to Burlington for school and work. He is passionate about storytelling, relationship building, and family. These passions have led him to experiences in schools, daycares, and local nonprofits both here in North Carolina and abroad in the Dominican Republic and in Chile (where his family is from!).
He studied Human Services at Elon University and always had an interest in and knack for the nonprofit sector. Daniel has 5 years experience supporting and working directly with small, community-based nonprofits. He also spent quite literally a his whole life working with kids, as his mother owns a home daycare. One of his core beliefs is that we have just as much to learn from kids as they do from us. Young creativity is powerful.
Upon graduating, Daniel served as a program coordinator for Healthy Alamance, a public-health nonprofit in Alamance County. He participated in public health research, facilitated several county groups such as the Health Equity Collective and Alamance Food Collaborative, and helped oversee three farmers markets in the county. It was during his time at the farmers markets where he found a passion for all things agriculture-related. After volunteering with some of the farmers from the market he began to work full-time as a farm-hand. Although very different, he found a lot of the same community-centered values and kindness in agriculture as he did in the nonprofit world. After working the hot summer in NC he took his skills international. Daniel spent six months with his family in the town of Quillota, Chile. Here he added on handyman and landscaping skills that he learned while working with his tíos.
Upon returning to the states, Daniel found what seemed like his dream job. The Asheville Farmstead School connects all pieces of his professional and personal experiences. He can offer nonprofit support, get his hands dirty, and, most importantly, grow and learn with young ones. He is excited to be a part of the team!
Lead Sprout Educator
Agnes grew up climbing trees and playing in the creeks of Bloomington, Indiana. There she attended Indiana University and received a B.S. in Elementary Education. She then taught Kindergarten for four years at University Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate school in Bloomington. She loved the inquiry based learning style of the school, where children’s curiosity drove the learning. During her time at University she was a leader on the school's equity team. She created opportunities for both students and families to share their experiences and concerns, and used this information to change policies and practices at the school. In 2021, she co-founded a LGBTQIA+ and Allies Club, aiming to create a safe space for adolescents to express themselves authentically and find community with their peers.
In her years at University she noticed that the more free play she incorporated into her student’s day, the more regulated and successful they were. At the same time, she struggled with the amount of testing and technology being pushed on the 5 and 6 year old students. She wondered what else was out there in the field of education, and that is when she learned about forest schooling, and found Asheville Farmstead School.
Agnes is grateful to now be living amongst the mountains, and working at the Farmstead. She uses her experience with inquiry based learning to engage children’s sense of wonder in nature. She supports children in developing independence and emotional awareness, with modeling and clear expectations. In her free time, Agnes enjoys exploring new trails, making art, and spending quality time with her cats and dog.
Myles Jude was borned and raised in Columbus, Ohio. Throughout his childhood and growing up, Myles spent hours outdoors in all seasons. Enjoying the adventures with siblings and friends around the neighborhood and in the local parks to discover new surprises. He attended Cedarville University in the cornfields outside of Dayton, Ohio where he earned his degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. While attending school, he worked with his local YMCA through the day camps where he worked as camp counselors as well as program director during his time there at the camp.
Myles started his teaching career working with middle school students at a charter school in inner city Columbus, before moving up to Grand Haven, Michigan. Along with living near Lake Michigan, he also had the opportunity to have exposure and experiences with the multitude of hiking and nature trails that western Michigan has to offer. It was there that he continued working with students with special needs ranging from preschool to middle school ages. During his summers he participated and worked at the YMCA in Grand Haven, working with campers with special needs and coordinating resources for them to be able to participate in every day camp opportunities as their peers.
Myles moved down to Asheville, North Carolina in Fall of 2022 to continue teaching working with students with intense social emotional deficits within Asheville City Schools. Which has then led him to the Ashville Farmstead School and provided him the opportunity to take his passion for learning, teaching, and adventure into a whole new direction.
During his free time, Myles greatly enjoys exploring and looking for new experiences with his friends and family. As well as taking time to relax with a good book and his senior cat, Annie. On top of a good true crime podcast, a good comedy and a sweet tooth that can get him in trouble. He is excited to grow and learn in his time at the Farmstead and expand his knowledge of the natural world around him.
AM Sprouts, ½ Day Littlest Learners Educator
Carrie is over the moon to be at Asheville Farmstead School. She lived much of her life in Michigan until 2018 when she and her husband took to the road for an RV adventure to find more mindful ways of living and to find a forever community. Eventually, they found their community here in the Smoky Mountains.
Carrie has a BA in Secondary Education. She taught middle school briefly before realizing that her gifts were not a great fit for the public education system. She yearned to really make a difference in children’s lives, which she found through nannying. Her favorite thing is to watch children grow organically through curious play, wonder and awe, especially out in nature! She has been so lucky in her 20+ years of childcare to find the most creative, fun, and loving children and families to work with.
She also worked for many years as a director at a Detroit area nonprofit organization helping single mothers and their children get back on their feet after periods in homeless and DV shelters, by furnishing and decorating their new homes.
She currently lives in Sylva with her husband and their two perfectly crazy cats, Blue and Bonkers. She spends her free time exploring the glorious forests, caring for a few veggie pots, reading, and creating fun art with her husband. She is a passionate animal advocate and nature enthusiast.
Carrie is a student of Mindfulness & Meditation as well as a certified teacher. She believes in striving to remain truly present, especially with children. All of the things that light her up are present in abundance at Asheville Farmstead School! What a delightful honor!!
Lead Littlest Learners Educator
Morgan Kaelin hails from Louisville Kentucky and grew up loving nature! From the forest to the ocean she loves it all! She discovered her love for Western North Carolina when she attended Warren Wilson College and graduated with her B.A in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Education. During her time at Warren Wilson, she embarked on a 47-day Instructor Development Course with Outward Bound where she found another passion-teaching outdoor skills to others!
After working at various marine science camps from the coast of North Carolina and Maine to a summer camp in Wyoming focused on place-based education, Morgan decided to pursue her M.A.T. in Elementary Education at the University of North Carolina of Wilmington. Deciding that a traditional classroom wasn't for her, Morgan has worked as an educator at Montessori schools, charter schools, and even as an Education Coordinator at an Elephant Sanctuary before making her way to Asheville Farmstead School. Morgan can be found enjoying nature on the weekends from identifying insects and plants to hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lead Explorers Educator
Brianna is the Lead Explorers Educator at the Asheville Farmstead School. Brianna’s journey prior to the Farmstead included working and living in the wilderness as a Wilderness Field Instructor for a Wilderness Therapy Program. During her two years in the wilderness, she taught the children how to overcome challenges, express their emotions safely, and primitive camping skills. She has experience in creating and facilitating recreational programs for children of all ages. In addition, she also has experience in working with children of all different needs such as; Autism spectrum, ADHD, and other behavioral health backgrounds.
Brianna is pursuing her Undergraduate degree at Western Carolina University for Parks and Recreational Management. She will have obtained her Bachelors of Science in the Fall of 2023. She believes that all levels of education are important and is striving to achieve her Graduate degree in Experiential Education.
Brianna was born in New Jersey, then moved to Charlotte, NC when she was younger. She spent most of her childhood growing up in the city. When the opportunity for change arose, she took it to live in the beautiful Smoky Mountains and has not left since.
Brianna has an enormous love for nature and the outdoors. She is not afraid to get a little dirty in the woods when it comes to playing and facilitating activities. She spends most of her free time hiking, backpacking, practicing yoga, and playing with her dog Cinnamon. Some fun facts about Brianna are that she is a pro at hula hooping, enjoys all music, and attends concerts.
The Farm Dog
Nugget is a three-year-old Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler), mix and he is part of our everyday learning! The children love Nugget, and Nugget lives for the children and the Farmstead. He is kept current on all of his immunizations with the Pet Vet on Patton Avenue. According to the Westminster Kennel Club, "Their intelligence and ability to "problem-solve" guarantee the Australian Cattle Dog excel in herding, obedience, agility, or as a vital family member.
Nugget is also Lauren's registered Emotional Support Animal (ESA), through the National Service Animal Registry(NSAR) (ID: D444500). An ESA provides companionship and comfort to a person to help minimize the impacts of emotional hardships. NSAR requires the dog to be able to pass the Public Access Test, which confirms the dog can; walk beside its handler on a leash without straining against the leash, sit on command, come when called, lie down on command, and show no aggression toward humans or other animals when unprovoked.
His favorite activities around the Farmstead include; greeting his friends, chasing his frisbee, joining his friends on a forest adventure, and being there for his friends when they are sad, or get hurt. When he is not working at the Farmstead, Nugget enjoys truck rides, sleeping in sunny spots, and 'pre-washing' pots and pans for his mom!
Cedarsong Way Accredited School
Asheville Farmstead School is proud to be one of four internationally accredited Cedarsong® Way Schools.
The Cedarsong Way is an award-winning leader in the U.S. Forest Kindergarten movement and has received international accolades for its groundbreaking work.Schools that are accredited in The Cedarsong Way have proven to be operating at the same high level of excellence as the original Cedarsong Nature School.
The Cedarsong Way accreditation is your assurance of the best quality outdoor education program. Learn more about The Cedarsong Way and our philosophies.